Paul Chutkow


The Writing Life


Funny how things happen.

When I finished writing Robert Mondavi’s memoir, the creators of the Visa Card asked me if I might help them tell the story of their ingenious little strip of plastic and how it has changed banking and consumer life around the world. 

Yes, I said, but with one condition: that I could manage the design, photography and printing as well. You see, I was disappointed in the way the Mondavi book actually looked and felt, and I was convinced that I could put together a team that could do far better with the design, photography, and printing. And thus was born Val de Grace Books, a small publishing house that does big, beautiful, award-winning books on American wine, business and culture. 

And talk about a harvest of joy: With Val de Grace, I have had the soaring pleasure of working with a fabulous group of artists and creators: Milton Glaser, the legendary designer; Matthew Klein, as gifted a photographer as you can find; Tom Hummel and the devoted craftsmen at Toppan Printing of Japan, one of the finest printers in the world, and two more brilliant designers: Dorothy Carico Smith and Connie Hwang. Lucky me! We all have different gifts and realms of expertise, but in this crazy digital age of ours, with all its “selfies” and quickie self-published books, we remain committed to the old-fashioned belief that beautiful and consequential books are essential repositories of our culture and heritage, and essential tonics for our individual hearts and soul. Read on!
From “Journey Through Literary America,”
by Thomas Hummel and Tamra Dempsey 
Sasha Tolstoy and Ernest Hemingway’s oldest son Jack, with Zelda of course. Delightful literary history -- and you can read all about it in “Zelda, The Queen of Paris.” 

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